Musicscan: First of all: does it frighten you somehow that so many people and musicians praise SikTh for being innovative, visionary, and “different”? How do you feel about what you are doing with the band?
Sikth: No it doesn’t frighten me. We all appreciate the praise and are proud of our music. It was always our intention to innovate and be different. It didn’t happen by accident it was a lot of work. But the fact that people are giving us credit for it now makes us very proud of what we have done with the band.
Musicscan: A friend of mine once said after listening to one of your previous releases: this is for nerdy people played by nerds. Do you see any truth in this?
Sikth: Ha ha, it depends on how it was intended. Obviously if it was meant to insult us by suggesting the band and our fans are spotty virgins with no social skills who sit alone in front of the computer in our mum’s basement 18 hours a day then I’d have to say no.
However we do share some characteristics with nerds. Nerds are often thought of as intelligent, single minded and obsessive. So in that regard I suppose the band and our fans are those things.
But I’d imagine that the comment was intended as an insult so I’d have to say that each member of the band share little in common both physically and mentally. We also have a fan base made up of all ages and genders from all walks of life.
Also we don’t have much time for generalisation’s as a band but if we did we’d probably say something like,
“most music is made by idiots with no imagination for idiots with no imagination”
What does your friend listen to?
Musicscan: Personally I sometimes think that SikTh is about musical education of listeners in some ways. What do you think about this impression?
Sikth: Well its certainly a compliment. But I think all good music acts as a form of musical education. All the music we listened to when we were growing has formed our musical education. Even bad music acts as a form of musical education but teaches you what not to do.
Musicscan: What exactly does SikTh sound like from your point of view? Is it any kind of departure to what people might expect from you if you think of reviews and fan reaction. Do you feel “understood” to say so?
Sikth: I think of the band as a Technical/Progressive Metal band. That is a tag I personally feel pretty comfortable with and id imagine most of our fans would agree with that description. However you would probably get a wildly different answer from some members of our band. Dan Weller once described the band as a “crazy pop band”.
Musicscan: In general: how do you feel about your place within the heavy scene at all as well as in between tradition and gaining new ground to bring forth what the metal heroes you grew up with did before SikTh were around? Times and sounds changed a lot since you once started, but you kept on playing your own sound…
Sikth: I think were fairly comfortable with our place. We always made an effort to try to innovate as well as write memorable music which I guess is why we are still considered relevant in the current scene even after not releasing a new record for almost 10 years. I think were more comfortable in the current scene now than in the past. I think even the people that dislike us probably except we aren’t just a bad noise core band or whatever we have our own thing going on.
Musicscan: Regarding the songwriting: do you still have to deal with limitations, or are you in a position to realize all the ideas you have? Has it been harder coming up with new material this time for Opacities? What did you guys do differently for the mini album that you hadn't done previously to keep things progressing?
Sikth: Yeah we do have to deal with limitations as some of the guys have careers that make them unavailable and un-contactable for prolonged periods. However as an individual the band puts no restraint on my creativity. It’s pretty much the perfect job for a drummer like me as nothing is too outrageous and I am actively encouraged by many of the members of the band to go as crazy as possible when expressing myself.
It hasn’t been harder for me personally as I never stopped writing this style of music. I think it was harder for the guys in the band who don’t play in bands or make heavy music anymore.
The mini album in many ways is a combination of the sound of the first and second records. There are many things we did on the first record that we didn’t do on the second and vice versa. It’s a record for the fans as well as us. However as a drummer there are a few technical things that I have never done on previous records such a blast with a back beat in “Philostine” and other things peppered throughout the record.
Musicscan: There is a statement from Mikee who said that Opacities is “musically, vocally and lyrically your most complete work and that you pushed your sound to the next level.” Could you elaborate this idea a little further, please. Do you feel like having found a new identity with Opacities? What were bands goals for Opacities, and were they reached, or perhaps altered along the way?
Sikth: I’d say it’s our most focussed piece of work as unlike most of our records we only had to concentrate on a few songs rather than 10 so they were all completed around the same time. Also unlike our other records Mikee came up with the title before completing the rest of the lyrics which I’m sure will have affected the way he wrote.
I think we wanted to pretty much pick up where we left off with this record. “Death of a dead day” was very different to “The trees…”
I think we managed to reintroduce the melodic proggy drop downs from “the trees” while keeping the complex metal unison riffs from “death of a dead day”
I think this record was all about proving to ourselves and our fans that we can still do it.
The next record will be where we can truly branch out further than ever before and push our sound.
Musicscan: You surely remember when you wrote your first song for/with SikTh and what it felt like and know how it feels like now when you finish a song. How has your relationship to the music and your songs changed/develop over time?
Sikth: It varies a lot to be honest. A song like “Bland Street Bloom” was extremely satisfying to finish. I think we all were of one mind when completing that song from the beginning to the end.
Other songs start with an idea and end up very different to what was originally intended.
It’s very rare all six of us finish a track and go “yeah were all really happy with that song its done”.
Musicscan: What is your attitude towards your songwriting in general? The style you are playing is technical, but so far i always had the feeling that you were heading for real songwriting with a good flow within the songs while having also the live setting in mind. True?
Sikth: Yeah id say that’s true. Its easy to completely disappear up your own arse when writing technical music and we never want to exclude people from our music cause it goes over their heads. Also great songs stay in the memory in a way that technical wizardry alone cannot. Its about having some emotional connection to what you are doing or else it is meaningless.
The technicality is also a product of trying to be original and unique. A lot of the great simple things have been done over and over so in an order to be unique you have to seek out the difficult awkward things as they are what most people avoid.
Musicscan: There are so many surprises to find within your songs. But: is this something you are heading for by choice or accident? And regarding all the influences of SikTh: how difficult is it to choose between all of them, and are there any styles that you would never consider to include into your songs?
Sikth: Well I think that as individuals we plan everything meticulously but because we all have an opinion (often not the same opinion) there is definitely an element of surprise because where one person wants a song to go often varies wildly to another band members.
It’s definitely difficult to choose between our influences. Some bands we are united in liking like Pantera for instances. Others like “Extreme” or “Velvet Underground” divide the band
There are already styles included in our sound I would have never considered.
Musicscan: SikTh consists of well-skilled musicians with lots of crazy ideas: but do you sometimes have to prevent yourselves from getting too technical to stay memorable? It’s obvious, that it is an important thing for you to write songs with a good dramaturgy and contrasts…
Sikth: That is the challenge, to try to make things memorable but original/technical. The idea behind the band is always to never intentionally copy anyone else. Otherwise you aren’t truly being creative.
We all want to express ourselves either through our ideas or the way we play or sing.
I think the intention to even try to do this is what separates us from most bands.
Musicscan: Are there specific aspects on Opacities that stand out in your mind, or aspects that have an inner meaning to you would like to share with us? What makes this release special to you?
Sikth: I like all the songs. As a drummer there are always things I do in each song which stand out for me. But its difficult to decide. I think we aim for a level of detail and quality which makes it hard to decide.
I think the mini album in a way represents us a band and individuals’. It is complex, difficult and open to several levels of interpretation.